Every year, US companies lose an estimated $41 billion because a customer moves to a competitor after a negative customer experience (Nicola Brooks). I can guarantee that your business has felt a portion of that $41 billion, whether you realize it or not.
If you don’t already survey your customers, you need to start now.
If you do survey your customers, great! But are you asking the right questions?
We are passionate advocates for customer satisfaction surveys because we’ve seen them work wonders for our own company. Over the years, Alchemer has sent thousands of surveys to our customer base, asking for their honest feedback about the product and the services that we provide them. And we read every single response.
The customer feedback we receive becomes a conversation within the company as we constantly update our software, service, and business practices. These changes have made us a stronger business, a more powerful software provider, and has increased our Net Promoter Score from 1 to 79.
How do you know if you’re asking the right questions? Test, test, and test again. Every business and audience is a little different, so it can take time to land on the right kinds of questions for you. But, we’re here to help. We’ve been doing this for years.
This blog will give you suggestions for crafting quality questions, including our favorite example questions, so you can start measuring customer satisfaction today.
3 Key Principles of Great Customer Satisfaction Surveys
When designing your customer satisfaction survey, all aspects of Great Survey Design are important. But, pay special attention to these three principles:
- Remove bias. It’s your business; we know it’s difficult to not be biased. But, when it comes to asking for customer feedback, it’s important to keep your own opinion out of the questions. You want customers to respond genuinely and give you the greatest insight into their experiences, even if that insight may be harsh.
- Be concrete. Your questions should address specific customer interactions and be worded in a way that avoids miscommunication. Avoid or define technical and industry-insider terms whenever possible.
- Stay focused. Your survey should address one aspect of the customer experience. It’s best to view these as a quick check in with your customers with each question focused on an actionable takeaway. It should take the average respondent two minutes or less.
Starting Out With a Customer Satisfaction Survey Template
To help our users get their feet wet with surveys, we have included a basic customer satisfaction survey as a template available to all accounts.
In it, you will find a series of general questions, each pointed toward an aspect of the customer experience.
Our version starts with questions about customer service, then transitions into asking questions specifically about the product, which in the example’s case is software.
Each question is presented in a way that is open-ended and worded in a way to remove bias, while maintaining absolute clarity. Readers will know exactly what information you’re looking for.
You’ll notice that there are only five questions in this template. We recommend keeping customer satisfaction surveys short and sweet to reduce survey fatigue and improve the quality of your responses.
Sample Survey Questions That Go Beyond the Template
While our pre-made template will give you a head start for setting up your customer satisfaction survey and can be used right out of the box, we recommend adding your own spin to it.
Our most important piece of advice when it comes to measuring customer satisfaction is to go above and beyond a numerical measurement.
Ask for concrete feedback.
While it’s nice to have a simple number or star grade to put in your reports, the only way to get the most from your customers’ responses is to get actionable feedback.
Actionable feedback usually takes the shape of open ended, text box questions where customers can add their own words.
As with multiple choice questions, it’s important to be clear and concise when asking open ended questions, too.
Some of our favorite questions to ask are:
- How would you improve our product/service?
- If you could change one thing about our product/service, what would it be and why?
- What is your favorite aspect of our product/service? Why?
- Why did you choose our product/service rather than a competitor’s?
- What are a few words you’d use to describe our product/service?
A word of warning about open ended responses: filling in text boxes require more time and brainpower. While all of these open ended questions may be important to you and your business, it’s best to only include only a few at a time.
A great way to test multiple open ended questions is to use our built-in Question Logic and Percent Branch features.
Question Logic will ensure that customers can only see questions that apply to them. For example, if a customer indicates that they purchased an item from your physical store (instead of online), you can ask specific follow-up questions around how you can improve your in-person customer experience.
Percent Branch allows you to randomize which customers see which set of questions. Fifty percent of your audience, for example, could be asked, “How would you improve our service?” while fifty percent could be asked, “If you could change one thing about our service, what would it be?”
The differences between these two questions may be subtle, but it’s possible that you’ll receive vastly different kinds of responses. The only way to find out is to test!
There are lots of things that you can do with logic that can take your survey to the next level. For now, let’s get back to the basics of which questions to ask.
Get Specific With Your Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions
Just because our sample survey questions are general doesn’t mean you can’t fine tune your customer satisfaction survey to explore one aspect of your business in depth.
Some aspects you could focus on include:
- In-store customer service experience
- Ease of the online purchasing process
- Level of satisfaction with online customer support
- Learn how your customers are using your product
- Discover what additional features, products, services, or events customer would like
- Feedback after attending a new or updated product, service, or hosted event
The possibilities are endless.
When diving deep into one topic, remember to stay focused and concise. The survey should still only take your customers a few minutes to complete, even if you’re asking for in-depth and actionable feedback.
You don’t want your customers to feel like you wasted their valuable time!
If you decide to get specific with your survey questions, it’s a very good idea to include Disqualify Logic in your survey. Disqualify Logic can be a question like: “Did you purchase X product?” If the respondent answers yes, then they may continue the rest of the survey. If their response is no, Disqualify Logic will bump them out of the survey.
This way, the only people who will go through the survey are people who it applies to.
Survey Often… But Not Too Often
Once you start surveying your customers, it’s important to check in with them regularly to start tracking satisfaction over time, particularly as you begin to act on the feedback you receive to improve how you do business.
However, as important as it is to check in often, it’s equally important not to overdo it!
Survey fatigue is a real problem, and over-surveying is one of the fastest ways to annoy your customers.
Alchemer recommends waiting three months before sending another survey to an individual, regardless of how often they interact with you in the interim.
Quick Tips for Distributing Surveys With Customer Satisfaction Questions
Now that you’ve created your fantastic survey, it’s time to get it in front of your customers.
Which methods you choose will depend entirely on your goals for the survey and, in particular, your target audience.
Possible distribution methods include:
- Email and newsletter campaigns
- On the web through a direct link from your site
- Automated emails triggered by customer actions
- Social media posts targeted to your existing customers
- In-store on a tablet or mobile device
Put Our Sample Survey Questions to Work
Solving one customer’s problem is important, but the only way to really get ahead is to proactively find and address the issues making a negative impact on customer satisfaction.
To find out more about how you can use CSAT (customer satisfaction) and NPS to improve the customer experience, listen to the Activated NPS Webinar.
Surveys are the perfect tool to help you on this journey.